Sunday, October 20, 2013

DR Congo: It isn't over 'till...

Yahoo News reports
Congo rebels expect 'major breakthroughs' in peace talks
                         Rena Abandi ( second left ) leads the the M23 delegation into negotiations 19/10/13
Kinshasa (AFP) - Rebels in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) said on Saturday they are heading toward "major breakthroughs" with the Kinshasa government in peace talks in Uganda.
Under Uganda's mediation, "major breakthroughs are about to be obtained in Kampala since the heavy involvement of the international community in the dialogue" between the two sides, the M23 movement said in a statement.
At a guess no. The M23 press release on the subject.  Official Communique No. 060/M23/2013 
" At During the session this Friday, October 18, 2013, the Movement of March 23, has made ​​major concessions on its political demands to make possible the signing of a peace agreement in Kampala in a few hours. By this act, the Movement wishes to demonstrate its determination to contribute to the rapid advent of a lasting peace in the Democratic Republic of Congo." 
I have no idea what concessions M23 has made but, and I stress the  " but " M23 have nothing real to concede other than capitulation. This last week has seen some of the most batshit crazy public announcements, interviews, open letters etc. by M23 that I really am starting to wonder if the group has any cohesive leadership left.

Lambert Mende, a minister and Congolese government spokesman, was more circumspect, telling AFP that "breakthroughs will be measured against the final agreement," if one were signed.
"There has been some reconciliation," Mende said in Kinshasa, but stressed that although the M23 could "sign today", that would "not be the end of the problem."
That should probably be considered a conciliatory statement by Mende. The reality from the Congolese perspective is that there is no concessions that they are able to make that will be acceptable to the wider Congolese population and specifically their citizens in the eastern DR Congo. M23 would have the world believe that they enjoy widespread support in the east, they don't and other than an unconditional surrender M23 have no more cards. 

" When you are down to your last choice make sure it is a good one " as the old saying goes for the military leadership in the field the best they can hope for is an escape to Rwanda, but I doubt that this option will be allowed if it is within the capacity of the Congolese government or for that matter MONUSCO to prevent it. That leaves the Bosco Ntaganda option , or alternatively  to put it bluntly watching the grass grow from below it.

In contrast, the rebels referred to the "remarkable presence" of US special envoy to the Great Lakes Russ Feingold and the UN special envoy Mary Robinson as well as Martin Kobler, the head of the UN mission to the DRC, and representatives of the European Union and African Union.
There is no dividend for America, The European Union, The African Union or the United Nations in saving M23. Rwanda it seems may have reached the conclusion that M23 have become an expendable embarrassment the political leadership may find asylum there but in the world of Realpolitik even that might now be a step Kigame is unwilling to take. I suggested back in September Rwanda would react they have not.
"We reiterate our call for Rwanda to cease any and all support to the M23 and to respect DRC’s territorial integrity, consistent with U.N. Security Council resolutions," said U.S. State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf.

The peace talks are cover and neither side is taking them seriously however this is a major movement in policy from the US. Rwanda is being further isolated. I would expect a Rwandan reaction soon.

Publicly accusing a U.S. ally of backing M23 rebels is a bold move for the Obama administration, said Sarah Margon at Human Rights Watch.

"They've told the Rwandans we're putting you on notice," she said. "But what next? And so if the Rwandans don't stop, what will the U.S. be willing to do?"
During talks on Friday, "the M23 made major concessions on its political demands in order to make possible the signing of the peace agreement in Kampala in the coming hours," the group said.
"By this act, our movement wishes to demonstrate its determination to contribute to the rapid establishment of a lasting peace in the Democratic Republic of Congo," it said.
It is Sunday morning in Kampala as I type and there has been no peace agreement signed ( or if there has it is yet to be announced ) so hours have become days. 
The M23 controls an area of around 700 square kilometres (270 square miles) in the east of the DRC, bordering Rwanda and Uganda.
700 square kilometers as of when ? M23 are not only running out of time they are running out of space.
The group was founded by former Tutsi rebels who were incorporated into the Congolese army under a 2009 peace deal.
Complaining the deal was never fully implemented, they mutinied in April 2012, turning their guns on their former comrades and launching the latest rebellion to ravage DR Congo's mineral-rich and conflict-prone east.
The United Nations regularly accuses Rwanda and Uganda of supporting the M23, something both countries deny.
Mende affirmed that Rwanda had a key role in the outcome of rebels' future in the country, and said "the principal player could always restart this crisis. It is Rwanda's attitude that is the deciding factor."
Which is the reason why I doubt an agreement can be made. Allowing the leadership of M23 an out amounts to a postponement, that is in no ones interest but Rwanda and M23. The world has grown tired of Rwanda's lies and cynical behaviour and if the Congolese government wants to send a message they have the opportunity to do so. In blood.
The negotiations in Kampala had reportedly stumbled over the question of an amnesty for the rebels and their reintegration in the army. Backed by the international community, the government in Kinshasa has said there will be no impunity for the main rebel leaders.
Kinshasa's best option may well be to send the rebel leadership to the ICC, that could prove to be very embarrassing to Rwanda and while most in the eastern DR Congo will see it as justice denied ( and they would be right ) I doubt the regime of Kagame would be quite so enthusiastic about fomenting further insurrections in the DR Congo whilst the ICC publicly washes their laundry while the world looks on.

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